Porn, Rape Culture, and The Rise of the Incel

You don’t have to look hard to find entitlement on the Internet. Social media is littered with groups and posts from people who think that they’re owed some privilege just because they exist.  Years ago, I remember reading a comment from a man who felt that it should fall on the government to provide him with a girlfriend- that some living, breathing, free-willed woman should be made by the government (who, by the way, should be equally representing men and women) to service him, because he’s a man and he’s alive. As a woman, seeing the black and white proof of our objectification by society feels, well, embarrassing. It’s ludicrous to imagine someone paring down your existence to how you can benefit them, so I chalked it up to idiocy, one random guy online. I never imagined that years later, I’d be facing down an entire movement that sees the female gender as only a commodity.

So how did we get here? How did we get from being able to laugh at outrageous suggestions to being concerned that we are encroaching upon a time where we’ll actually be living in Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”? I don’t know. It’d be impossible for me to say that I know how we got from A to B, but I can say that I see a very clear possibility.

A Society Obsessed with Porn…

I always feel like every time I express a negative opinion about porn I have to put a disclaimer before it that I’m neither a prude, nor particularly care about what consensual sex someone else is having, and that in itself highlights a problem with porn: it’s become so ridiculously ingrained in society that even though a whole bunch of people hate it, we have to defend our positions before even saying anything. As if one reason is better than another. Ultimately, it’s undeniable that culture has become more sexualized since the arrival of Internet pornography. Everything is sold with sex, everyone talks about sex, and sometimes it feels like everything is about sex. Innocence is lost so much earlier with the availability and inevitable exposure to porn at younger and younger ages.

 

blurs the line between person and object…

If you’ve ever spoken to a porn addict, you know that they have a really messed up relationship with sex.  Like anything, there is undeniably a difference between a casual user and someone who is addicted, but that doesn’t mean that a casual dabbler is safe from the potentially harmful effects of pornography. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to suffer from indulging in Tequila. With sex ubiquitous in our society, we’re so engulfed in it that we can’t even separate women’s’ body parts from their sexual use. A woman can put on a string bikini to sell a hamburger in public, but she can’t breastfeed. Young girls are sent home from school for wearing spaghetti straps or jean shorts that were purchased in the kids’ sections of popular stores (so it’s OK and encouraged for them to wear them, but not if they disrupt the boy students) before they even have breasts or hips or a period. Nobody considers that if she’s too young to wear those clothes, she’s probably too young to be sexualized, but we’re doing it anyway.

 

which reinforces rape culture…

Degradation and rape are common themes in porn. From the overt physically and emotionally abusive porn to the less obvious porn that features subjugation in a way that is clearly not willing, people love to watch women being placed below men. This teaches young men receiving the bulk of their sexual education from pornography that women aren’t real people.

 

which leads to Incels.

If you live your entire life watching pornography that features objectification and violence against women, you do not have a healthy view of women and sex. On top of that, porn delivers sexual gratification instantly, so it becomes something that is expected. You think you deserve sex, are owed it. And unfortunately for women, who are tasked in pornography to deliver this to men, they become more and more at risk for real-world violence as generations of impressionable boys grow up to become men who now feel entitled to their bodies. The name they’ve given themselves, short for “Involuntary Celibates”, serves to illustrate this point: they’d be having sex if women were willing. Rather than wait for a willing woman, or changing their behavior, however, they take their indignation and anger and decide that they’ve waited long enough and that they’ll take what they’re owed.

There is a lot of anger in the Incel movement. The virgin trying to lose his virginity before high school graduation or on prom night or some other milestone used to be a light-hearted trope in movies and TV, but it’s not light-hearted anymore. It’s not the awkward shenanigans of someone coming-to-age, it’s headlines about boys shooting girls who won’t go out with them. It’s men raping unconscious women behind dumpsters. It’s men who feel entitled to sex demanding that if they can’t have a woman, they should have a robot. It’s men justifying their violence and hatred toward women because they’re unwillingly celibate. It’s a society willing to forgive the perpetrator, while shaming the victims, where someone always has to point out what should be obvious-namely, that women are people too, and their right to not have sex with someone is more important than your right to have sex. But where does all of this anger come from? Was it always there, under the surface? Or was it created by a world of Internet porn, where constant instant gratification taught them that sex is for sale, and owed to them? I certainly don’t have the answer, but from where I’m standing, the path from porn to Incel is pretty easy to see.

 

Questions? Thoughts? Concerns? Let us know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.